So recently, we've seen an article on Telegraph, UK newspaper, regarding 094 that seemed to have blown a little out of proportion, you can see it here.
What bugs me is not that they are showing this, but indicating that this was such an amazing find. First of all, this really is not a secret base as they indicate. It's clear that Sanya is one of the 4 major naval bases for the South Sea Fleet. And as we've seen with the pictures of Hu Jintao visiting the base recently, it is not the super secretive naval base that is described here. In fact, this is the only South Sea Fleet base that most PLAN watchers probably have heard of. Of course, when 093/094 was being assigned to the South Sea Fleet, this is the most logic base that it would be assigned to. And it is also apparent to any PLAN watcher that this was the most logical fleet to assign the new nuclear submarines to. With Taiwan right next to the ESF, it's clear that you'd want to put the latest conventional submarines there. With NSF already having the first generation nuclear submarines and the powerful JMSDF right next to it, it's clear that you probably don't want to put more attack subs there. That is exactly why all of us expect any of the power projecting platforms to go to SSF. Contrary to what is mentioned in this article, putting these units in SSF actually would put them further away from the major naval powers of the theater (USN, JMSDF, ROKN, ROCN) rather than closer. The part that makes the least sense is their idea that PLAN would keep their nuclear submarines in these shelters. As any naval analyst would tell you, it does no good to keep the nuclear submarines at the base. USN certainly doesn't become the most powerful navy in the world by not going out to the seas.
Sinodefense has recently posted an entry for the High New projects with PLA, you can find them here.
While it does a good job of going through all of the planes in the High New series, I think Huitong did a better of presenting them on his site. With a lot of pictures coming out for the High New Series recently, I thought I'd do an analysis of what I think each High New plane does.
High New 1:
I guess this variant is mainly thought to be the ECM variant, because it replaced HD-5 in the 29th regiment of 10th division (as evident by 21x1x serial number). I also speculated in the past that it might be SAR variant due to the canoe-shape radome under the fuselage that looks like SAR under Tu-154. Like most other high new aircraft, this airframe is based on Y-8F400.
High New 2:
So far, I have pictures for 9351, 9361 and 9527. So clearly, this is serving for PLANAF in one of the independent regiments. Right from the start, this has been identified as an ELINT aircraft (Maybe using some technology from EP-3). As mentioned several posts ago, a simplified version of this with KZ-800 ELINT system has been offered for export.
High New 3:
This one has been identified as the command post variant of Y-8. I don't think they need too many of this variant and we certainly have only seen 30721 so far. It's part of the 21th division. I don't think there is much more I can say about this.
High New 4:
This one has been identified as a JSTARS variant by some and ECM variant by others. I personally think that it is more like a JSTARS variant, because of the fact that it's radar provides 360 degree coverage and looks like the one on 052C. I'm not sure if an ECM variant would have something like that. In addition, it doesn't make much sense for PLAAF to have two different variants of High New series doing exactly the same thing. However, having both High New 1 and 4 in the same regiment supports the theory that they are both ECM planes.
High New 5:
Also known as KJ-200, this is probably the most well known variant of the high new series. And it is also the only one that uses the Y-8F600 platform. You can identify the Y-8 planes built specifically for KJ-200 by counting the number of blades on the propellers. We know that one of the KJ-200 unit built on Y-8F600 crashed in 2006, that might have set the program back a little bit. We also know that the original KJ-200 prototype was on a Y-8F200 platform. It's believed that KJ-200 with join the 26th division in PLAAF like KJ-2000. The pictures above shows the latest KJ-200 on Y-8F600 platform that just joined PLAAF. I've always thought that there are more than 2 units of KJ-200 from reports of PLAN exercises, but all the photos only support the 2 units theory.
High New 6:
This is widely believed to be the ASW variant of Y-8. I saw a couple of photos recently that I speculate to be 6, but I'm not sure.
It doesn't look like any of the other High New series aircrafts and sorts of remind me of Y-8X. Y-8X is the Y-8 MPA currently serving for PLAN.
High New 7:
This is the latest variant that we've seen. It's speculated to be conducting psychological warfare due to its similar appearance to EC-130E.
So, that's pretty much the list. I've also read about High New 8 under development + Y-7 ASW plane. Both of these seem to have enough air under them to be legitimate. So, I guess we are just waiting for more photos.